Skip to main content

As World Bank pulls out of Amaravati Capital City Project, activists call it 'major' victory

By Our Representative
In a significant move, which is likely to have repercussions at multiple levels, the World Bank has decided to pull out of the $300 million lending to the Amaravati Capital City project in Andhra Pradesh. Wthe orking Group on International Financial Institutions (WGonIFIs) and the affected communities of the Amaravati Capital City Project have welcomed the decision, saying the project was being implemented without taking into account threat to people’s livelihood.
The Bank arrived at this decision after a series of representations it received from many people’s movements and civil society organisations over the past years, and a complaint to its accountability mechanism, Inspection Panel, by the affected communities.
“We are happy that the World Bank took cognisance of the gross violations involved in the Amaravati Capital City project, threatening the livelihood of people and fragile environment. After Narmada and Tata Mundra, this is the third major victory against the World Bank Group”, said Medha Patkar, senior activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), India’s top human rights network.
“We are happy that the Inspection Panel, which was created due to the struggle of NBA, played its critical role here. While we celebrate this victory of the people, who stood up to the intimidation and terror of the state, we warn the government and financial institutions not to push their agenda without the consent of the people”, she added.
Ever since the Amaravati Capital City Project was conceptualised in 2014, environmental experts, civil society organisations and grassroots movements were expressing their anguish over “grave violations” of social and environmental laws, pointing toward the project’s financial unviability, massive land-grabbing of the fertile land in the garb of voluntary land-pooling, and open threats to the complainants by none other than the then chief minister.
Mallela Sheshagiri Rao from the Capital Region Farmers Federation said, "With uncertainty hovering above us in respect to our land and livelihood, we had suffered sleepless nights with fear and pain. The struggle has made a mark in our lives that we can never forget. We hope the larger message of World Bank’s pulling out of this project will be heard by the state and other financiers and will address the concerns of people with honesty and commitment.”
Another co-financier of the project Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), projected themselves as the post-Paris bank, signalling the commitment to tackle climate emergency, is in focus now.
While the project is still listed under consideration in their official documents, having entered in this project only as a co-financier and AIIB used World Bank’s policies to adhere to in this project, as a co-financier, the status of the AIIB now is unclear, with World Bank pulling out.
"For a change, good sense has prevailed upon the Bank to withdraw from the disastrous programme. This also vindicates our stance that despite its rhetoric of a post-Paris bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is a co-financer in the project, can no longer hide behind the World Bank which it has been doing as a co-financier," said Sreedhar R, chair, International Committee, NGO Forum on the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and director, Environics Trust.
Another co-financier of the project Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), projected as the post-Paris bank, signalling the commitment to tackle climate emergency, is in focus now
Tani Alex of the Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), another civil rights organization, said, “This is another instance of people’s power forcing institutions like World Bank responsive to their concerns. While the people affected by the project stood a firm ground, support and solidarity from a number of other organisations amplified their concerns at appropriate forums. This is a victory of people and their unnerving demands for accountability and justice.”
Meanwhile, WGonIFIs has demanded the State government should scrap the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Land Pooling Act, CRDA authorities and notifications passed subsequently, which are “inconsistent” with the 2013 Central Act, and fully implement the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, 2013 in the case of all the affected people of Amaravati Capital Region. Also, the government should return the plots that were taken involuntarily from the people.
At the same time, it demanded initiation of a judicial enquiry into the socio-economic damage, land transactions and psychological trauma of agricultural, coastal, and pastoral labourers, tenants, landless families, Dalits who have undergone severe pressure and fear, due to the land acquisition and displacement process.
Other demands include a special compensation package for Dalits and other assigned landholders as their social life has been “damaged”, persecution of brokers, real estate agents and others who purchased or facilitated the purchase of assigned lands after the announcement of Capital Region”, and stop attempts to “de-list” Dalit farmers from records through dubious documentary manipulation.
The decision to develop Amaravati as new capital of Andhra Pradesh was born after bifurcation of the Andhra Pradesh in June 2014, both the new states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh decided to share Hyderabad as capital for 10 years. In September 2014, N Chandrababu Naidu, former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, announced Amaravati as the proposed capital city. The World Bank and AIIB were under consideration to finance the USD 715 million project.
In its risk assessment, the World Bank assigned this project category A, signifying social and environmental impacts. The project was criticised for building the city on the floodplains of river Krishna, diverting fertile farmlands and forests, displacing around 20,000 families, forcefully acquiring lands, and favouring contractors for the construction of the city.
A complaint with the Inspection Panel (independent accountability mechanism) of the World Bank was filed by the affected communities in 2017 to investigate the project for violation of the World Bank’s safeguard policies.

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Dalits rights meet planned on how citizenship law 'negates' Ambedkar's equality focus

By Our Representative
A Dalit rights meet has been planned at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Sanand, Ahmedabad district, to discuss implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament on December 10-11, for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections. Announcing the decision, DSK director Martin Macwan said, the meet would take place on December 25, 2019, at 11.00 am, to commemorate the anniversary of burning of copies of Manusmriti by Dr BR Ambedkar.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.